Former State Epidemiologist and Chief of the Epidemiology Section of the NC Division of Public Health Dr. Megan Davies joined the MAHA Advisory Board in March. In the conversation below, she tells us about her goals for MAHA.
How did you become interested in the environmental impacts on health?
I worked in a community health center for several years as a family doctor and saw patients who were affected by environmental exposures. We treated farm workers for heat exhaustion and pesticide exposures. Of course, I also saw the impact of air quality on my asthma patients. Later, working in public health, I realized that what I had observed in my individual patients was happening to entire populations of people.
What is needed for the medical community to have a greater understanding of how environmental issues affect their practice?
We need to do outreach to clinicians, both in training and in practice, to make them aware of the health risks to their patients from polluted air, being careful to tailor our communications to the provider’s field of practice and offer actionable steps to protect their patients’ health.
Where can the health community be most effective in raising awareness about health impacts of environmental policy?
Health care professionals are usually respected and listened to in their communities and by policy-makers. I hope that health care professionals will educate their patients and communities about the health impacts being experienced where they practice, and that they will also speak with local, state, and federal policy-makers about the importance of policies that protect everyone’s health.
How would you like to see MAHA work to ensure healthy air policies?
I would like MAHA to continue to educate the public and policy-makers about the health effects of air pollution, remaining careful to ground all our assertions in solid science.